Outbound marketing success is often measured in terms of qualified appointments scheduled for a company’s sales reps. In cold email campaigns, 1-1 personalized engagement is the rule, and CTAs are focused on setting these qualified meetings. The number of meetings books is typically how outbound marketing success is measured and judged.
But what happens to those prospects who convert on other channels after first being engaged through outbound marketing?
Some of those leads end up converting at a later time, often coming in as direct traffic visitors to a company’s homepage. If your company has recently added or scaled its outbound marketing motions, a jump in overall web traffic (mostly through direct traffic) is likely to follow.
So, let’s take a look at what exactly direct traffic is, how outbound marketing can increase overall traffic, and how outbound sales can increase inbound conversions.
Making Sense of Direct Traffic
Understanding direct traffic can be frustrating because it can be next to impossible to figure out where these users are coming from. Tracking traffic by acquisition channel is necessary because revenue attribution is how many marketing teams measure and justify their budgets and ad spends.
Marketers accustomed to monitoring website analytics have come to view direct traffic as a black box of data. This data is most often as categorized as people who directly typed in your website’s URL, bypassing other digital acquisition channels, such as search, paid, social, referral, email, and (other).
If you have suspicions that there are other reasons for increases in direct traffic, there are four things you can do to get a more accurate view of your website user acquisition channels.
4 Ways to Solve (Some) Direct Traffic Attribution
Before discussing how outbound motions affect your inbound marketing, let’s take a look at some ways you can ensure your channel acquisition tracking is optimized to bucket channel attribution most accurately.
1. Optimize for HTTPS
When a web user clicks a link on a secure page (i.e., HTTPS) that takes them to a non-secure HTTP page, referral data cannot be passed between pages. This results in the user being listed as “direct traffic.” Check out this more in-depth article that explains why HTTP vs. HTTPS matters.
2. Missing or improper tracking codes
UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) is the parameters attached to the original link for tracking purposes. There are a variety of companies that provide UTM builders and can help traffic users who come in from email, social media posts, and other public sharing channels. To get a full rundown on UTMs, check out this guide from Neil Patel.
These occur when the page linked redirects to another page. If the redirect path isn’t carefully mapped out code 301 server-side redirects, then any UTM parameters will get lost. Ask your SEO specialists to run an audit on your redirect file frequently.
4. Offline documents
These include hyperlinks in files such as downloadable Whitepapers, eBooks, or other PDF guides. These types of documents often contain hyperlinks that people click. Have the person in charge of content marketing double-check that UTM parameters are being used in these documents.
Direct Traffic and “Dark Social”
“Dark Social” isn’t as ominous as the similar-sounding dark web. Dark social simply refers to social messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, video conferencing chats (like Zoom), Whatsapp, among many others. When people share links through these channels, such as upcity.com, those get tracked in Google Analytics as Direct Traffic.
In the world of b2b, Slack’s effect on direct traffic is probably underestimated. Just imagine how many links are shared between users, given the following statistics.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to track this kind of traffic. However, as an estimated 81% of shoppers or in-market buyers perform Google searches before buying, it’s safe to say that if your website is being shared over Dark Social channels, it’s likely that you’ll see an uptick in direct traffic.
Overlooked Benefits of Outbound
Email marketing, one of the hallmarks of outbound, remains the ROI crown jewel of all digital channels. One Campaign Monitor study found that for every $1 spent, there’s $44 in revenue attribution. That’s as high as 4,400% ROI from email, the leading channel in outbound marketing.
But what happens to those who don’t convert initially on inbound channels?
Website users, who were targeted by outbound campaigns previously, are more likely to visit websites sans UTMs or other channels. For example, they may not have been ready to purchase at the time, but filed away your company’s info for a later time. When they were ready to begin the buying process, they clicked on a link in a spreadsheet where they had collected information on several different solutions providers. As such, they are often categorized as inbound visitors who just appeared.
But these users are in fact a byproduct of cold outbound emails. This is what CIENCE calls the ‘Outbound Assist.’
Alternatively, some prospects may be reticent about clicking links from previously unknown senders, thus copy-pasting the company name in the address bar and hitting CTRL+Enter or directly on Google. Similarly, they may be copying and pasting the hyperlink from your email and trimming off the UTM parameters in the address bar (savvy marketers and techies do this most commonly).
Website Conversions: The Hidden Story
How direct-traffic users get to your website is critical to understand in order to measure to monitor other marketing initiatives and campaigns. But even more important is what they do once on your website. There may be no way to reveal the origins of significant amounts of direct traffic, but the above steps should help you at least get a more clear picture of where your traffic is coming from.
The top 10% of landing pages convert search users at an average of 11.45% and higher, while the median Conversion Rate (CR) is 2.35%. Direct traffic is likely a different story for the reasons stated above, but a lift in direct traffic would likely see a similar boost in search traffic conversion.
Regardless of where these users originate, what they do once they reach your homepage or landing page is critical. If your conversions from direct users are on par with sources like organic, paid, or referral traffic, then it’s a good indicator that your brand is being found with intent.
Measuring the Outbound Assist
For marketing and sales teams, the outbound assist not only measures the impact of outbound on inbound success, but it also increases brand awareness and leads to increased direct traffic sources.
You can track outbound-generated leads by comparing companies or contacts who have scheduled an initial meeting (demo, discovery call, trial, etc.) against named accounts that have been enrolled in your outbound campaigns.
If your company is running outbound motions, it’s not uncommon for 15% of inbound leads to be first exposed to your brand via outbound marketing channels such as email, cold calls, or ads.
The Outside-In(Bound) Marketing Game
In addition to generating leads and setting qualified appointments, running targeted outbound campaigns ensures that you’re spreading brand awareness to prospects that fit your Ideal Customer Profile.
To capture the most leads from these sources, here are a few steps you can take to convert a higher share of leads (outbound generated or otherwise) on your site.
- Master the Art of Conversational Marketing: There are many chatbot platforms to engage prospects on your website. Well-executed chatbot experiences can provide boosts to lead qualification, maximize high-intent buyers, and nurture and upsell users.
- Segment your Website by Persona: The most effective outbound campaigns are segmented by personas. These help you articulate your value proposition for decision-makers, increasing time on page, and CTA button clicks because you’ve spoken more directly to your ideal customers in terms they understand and respond to.
- Experimentation and Optimization: Outbound marketing is the most direct path to prospects. With cold email, you can test various messages at scale and receive near-instant feedback on how relevant your messaging is based on positive, negative, or neutral prospect responses. After collecting this data, you can optimize your landing pages based on the direct feedback from people who fit your ICP.
While we may never be able to unearth all the mysteries of direct traffic, commitments to outbound lead generation can help you maximize value from your direct traffic. Whether a prospect converts from search or direct traffic, your sales team will still be most concerned with the quality of leads. Prospects engaged through outbound have already been qualified, or else they should have never made it onto your named account list in the first place. Thus, the Outbound Assist demonstrably increases the likelihood of your inbound conversions.